Spring Grove Mayor Candidate, Saundra Solum
Tuesday, October 30, 2012 7:38 AM
Three candidates are seeking the position of mayor in Spring Grove. Incumbent Saundy Solum faces challengers Heather Gray and Bruce Poole. They all responded to the questionnaire from the Spring Grove Herald. Below are their responses listed in alphabetical order. Each response was limited to 150 words
Saundra Solum, age 48 - Learning Technology Instructor and Learning Community Graduate Faculty - both at University of Wisconsin - La Crosse
1.) Please tell us about yourself and why you are running for office?
I have lived in the Spring Grove area my entire life - I grew up on a dairy farm north of town. Four years ago while decorating for Festival of Trees, several people asked me to run for council. I have always loved our town and decided to run for office. The same thing happened two years ago - I stepped up to run for mayor, and I would be honored to continue serving as your mayor. We live in a great community, and I want to make sure our community is here for future generations. I am more than happy to discuss any topics. It is important everyone has the correct information, and you will always receive an honest answer from me. If you have questions, feel free to call me at 498-5882 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2.) The Main Street project has seen its share of controversy. As a member of the current council that is proposing the improvements, tell readers why you feel so strongly that this project should move forward as proposed.
We have known the main street project was coming for the last 10+ years, and I just happened to begin my term the month the MnDOT meeting was scheduled. At that meeting, MnDOT said Spring Grove would receive $1.5 million from the state for the project because of the magnitude. Our sewer and water pipes are beyond end of life, and it is our responsibility to make sure our town is functional and a place everyone wants to live. Many of the sidewalks are hazardous, street lights have been patched, and the list could go on. There is never a good time for a project of this size; however, we are going to make the best of the situation and make it a project we can afford. We have spent hundreds of hours researching to make sure this project is a success and will last for many years.
3.) How do you feel the city has done the last year on transparency and is there any room for improvement?
Transparency according to Merriam-Webster is free from pretense or deceit, characterized by accessibility of information. I am a person with high integrity and honesty, so believe me when I say decisions are only made at open public meetings. I still am frustrated that so much misinformation is spread to everyone. One of the reasons I started the newsletter was to communicate the facts. I also encourage the council to wait one meeting after discussing a topic before deciding. It takes time to research agenda items to make sure the best decision is being made. Remember, we represent all of you, not just those that are the most vocal. I am always available to call or email, I have mayor hours once a month, public documents are available at city hall, and we are transparent.
4.) Do you feel that the city needs to look at reducing its current budget, and if so, what areas would you look at cutting?
Every year we go through the budget line by line and look for ways to trim spending. There are not many areas left to cut if we are to maintain our same level of service. I know some would say contract police, close the library, plow less, close the pool, sell the liquor store, reduce staff. Many of these services bring people to town, which helps the economic growth for our businesses and town. Also many of you would not agree on which service to stop. One area I do want to look at and where there could be savings is replacement of vehicles and depreciation. We have the beginning of a Capital Improvement Plan, which will help to plan for future projects so we are not caught unprepared. At our last council meeting, we reduced some areas to move towards a zero percent tax increase for 2013.
5.) What accomplishments are you most proud of from your current tenure?
Here are a few of my accomplishment: I have started the bi-monthly newsletter to improve communication; I have monthly mayor hours during the day for anyone to attend (anyone can reach me anytime by email or by phone in the evenings); began the Capital Improvement Plan so we are not caught unprepared in the future; initiated spending limits for non-budgeted items; moved open forums to the beginning of meetings so citizens can speak prior to decisions being made; initiated waiting to decide key decisions for the following council meeting. It is important for each person to research and determine their vote with all facts, which takes time. I would rather table for a future council meeting than make a rash decision; and continue to work to promote our great town - being part of the Main Street Marketing has shown how if we all work together we can accomplish more.
6.) If re-elected, what are the top three issues you want to see addressed in the next two years?
Spring Grove is a great place to live and we have so many opportunities for families of all ages. However, it must be affordable to live here. If re-elected, I will continue to look at other sources for funding and ways to reduce spending. Our utility rates when compared to similar size cities are lower than average, so there will be gradual increases to help fund the utility expenses for the main street project. However, I want to make sure these increases are affordable by all. If we can pay off our pool bond, this money will be used to help pay our Main Street Project. (The Friends of the Pool started fund raising last fall and will continue - please support them.) All policies need to be consistent across all employees, and several need updating. And finally, I will continue to promote and support our great community.